Sunday, June 17, 2018

ERNST LEITZ WERKSTÄTTEN – HOME OF THE LEICA WATCH






The newly established division of Leica Camera AG, ERNST LEITZ WERKSTÄTTEN, opened its own website.  They give an in-depth explanation of what lead to the decision to enter the market for high end watches, starting with an interview of Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Board of Leica Camera AG.  He realized an idea that had been in the air for a long time; the production of a high quality, mechanical watch.


Dr. Kaufmann, how did the idea of a Leica watch come about?

The idea of producing a mechanical watch has been around for quite a long time; it was already being considered when the era of the quartz watch was coming to an end, in the late eighties, early nineties. In a 1996 licensing agreement, that grants the trademark rights for Leica for 99 years and details which products can be manufactured under its flag, watches are mentioned in the second place.

When you look at the rangefinder built into the M, made up of well over one hundred parts, it’s like the small movement. A watch produced by Leica therefore, always has to have a mechanical movement. The link to mechanics is something Leica stands for.

And then – it must have been around 2012 – I said, “let’s do something about it now.” We started out by talking with various manufacturers, including Hanhart, a small German brand located in the Black Forest. Back then, the designer, Achim Heine, had already built a mood board for a watch, that was to be based on a Hanhart movement.

So, at the time you didn’t intend to build your own movement?

No. At first it was about doing something special. Hanhart had some older movements in its repertoire, which could have been modified to Leica’s requirements; but nothing came of it for a number of reasons. We also spoke with the founder of Chronoswiss, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang. Chronoswiss was the only new watch brand created in Germany at the end of the eighties. As a German watchmaker, he also managed to push through a few things that are now common in highquality watches. For example, the glass back was his idea. Lang was the first to create an awareness of the actual inner workings of a watch. The somewhat larger crown also came from him, an idea that he derived from the old pocket watch.

In the end, we didn’t go on to collaborate with Chronoswiss either, but we were able to put together a network of partners, with whom we could imagine producing a movement. On the one hand, there is the designer Achim Heine, whom I very much appreciate. In 1999 he also introduced Leica’s new design language and corporate identity. Up until 2008 he was one of the company’s main designers, while also already involved in watches. On the other hand, there’s Reinhard Meis, a builder from A. Lange & Söhne, who was retired at the time; and there’s Lehmann Präzision GmbH from the Black Forest. This resulted in the creative entity that developed the Leica watch. Some of Mr. Meis’s ideas, such as the patented push-piece crown, are included. Things became protracted, however, because developing a movement is a very painstaking job.



            Does this mean that the movement has been developed from scratch?

Completely! It has never existed in this form before. Lehmann produces the movement for Leica, and we finish it off at the Ernst Leitz Workshops in Wetzlar. It’s a complicated and expensive matter. You don’t develop a movement just like that; but with time we had simply found the right arrangement. I have always said, “the Leica watch has to come from above.” If a mechanical watch wants to be a counterpart for the M, then it has to represent and exhibit something unique. I think we’ve managed to do that.


So, the development of its own movement was more of a necessity than a wish?

From the perspective of the market it was a necessity. ETA – a firm belonging to the Swatch group – produces wonderful mass movements; but there was a Damocles sword situation, because the Swatch group had warned that at some point they wanted to stop delivering companies that make alterations to their movements. This depends on the outcome of various antitrust lawsuits. ETA controls around 70 to 80 percent of the market. Another company is Sellita. The Seiko Group also has some things available at reasonable prices. There are wonderful, durable, industrial movements produced in the millions; but we decided to go for something of our own, and this now is the result.



What classification does the movement have then? Has it been subjected to a chronometer test?

It sits in the highest class. We can only subject it to the chronometer test once we’ve decided whether to comply with Swiss or German chronometer regulations. The movement itself is extremely complicated, extremely difficult, and extremely expensive. The simplest of the watches will cost no less than 10 000 euros. And, of course, the gold edition will sell for a lot more.

            So the aim is to keep up with the big guys?

Yes, that’s the aim, and we also think we will manage to. Not in the quantity, but in the quality. We have the right partners to do so, and we will, of course, build up the corresponding customer service department, also in Wetzlar.



What can you say about the design? It sounds like it was a pretty tough process, that ended up looking like a train station clock at first.

We’ve opted for a very classic German design for the first watches. In this regard, we were very involved in designing it with Achim Heine. That’s the good thing about him, because he can be flexible. In the end it was down to millimetres. It was about proportions: how do we position the small circle for the seconds correctly? What should we do with the lettering? The basic design was clear, but then things really got going. In Germany we have, for example, the very respected designs by Nomos, a reduced Bauhaus in fact. In our case we believed we could justify a line somewhere in the middle. If you look at the connection to the M, for example, then this fits with Leica.

This was obviously also a fundamental point: to convey design elements from the camera to the watch?

We talked about this with Achim Heine for a long time; and he gave this much consideration. We then found four or five elements that could be applied in an interpretive manner. We avoided adding a red dot. A red dot only appears when you press the push-piece. But that’s not the “normal” state: it’s there when you push it, then it’s gone when you push it again. Why? Because a red dot doesn’t work on a watch; because if you do things properly a watch is something very symmetrical with a couple of proportional considerations. So the red dot is disturbing. But we include red in the crown, where there’s a small ruby. So, in a certain way, this serves as a reference to the Leica red dot.



How is the name Leica justified in the watch? Are the elements taken from camera design supposed to underline the relationships between camera and watch?

Yes. Leica’s design vocabulary goes all the way back to Ludwig Leitz II, who was the head of the research and development department back in 1939; and to Heinrich Janke, the father of the red dot, whom Ludwig Leitz employed in the early fifties. They were the famous M designers, who later also created the Leicaflex, the Leicaflex SL and the Pradovit.

When you read Janke’s design book, you suddenly understand what Leica did differently. It describes how Leica came to achieve its proportions. They were clearly derived from human forms, from the human head. The designers developed grids for the proportions, then looked to see how human proportions are actually structured. This means that when you look at Leica objects, you see proportions that come, on the one hand, from a technology design, on the other, from a human one.

When you take these principles and transfer them to something else, I don’t believe you can go wrong. Seen from this perspective, there is surely no harm in creating a certain relationship between watch and camera. For example, if you look at the Leicameter, the attachable exposure meter for the M3, this gives an idea for a different type of power reserve indicator. From the watchmaking perspective that was extremely difficult: it’s an unusual progress bar that goes from black to white. However, the design reference of our cameras is never an end unto itself, but has a reason to be, a functionality.

            Can you tell us anything about the production numbers planned?

They will be small. Next year we probably won’t produce more than 380 to 400 pieces. At the moment we are producing up to 18 000 Ms a year. Consequently, we can only talk about a small serial run in this case. After five years we probably won’t be producing more than 2500 pieces a year of this type of watch.

            Will it only be possible to acquire these watches through Leica?

The difference in Leica’s case is that, compared to other manufacturers in this field, we have our own retail stores. This means that the introduction will only be carried out through a few select Leica stores, and the employees there will be trained for this throughout the year.



            Where do you see the connection between time and photography?

That’s an interesting question! But it’s not easy to answer. Maybe I can do it like this: a snapshot is an attempt to capture time. A watch can’t do that. In the case of ambitious photography it’s more than the snapshot, it’s more than just capturing time – it’s about art. That’s something different to measuring time. Photography freezes time; a watch allows you to structure the flow of time.

            Why is Lehmann Präzision GmbH the right partner for Leica?

On the one hand, Markus Lehmann is your classic, industrial tinkerer, on the other, a watch enthusiast. That’s an unusual combination. His company builds incredible manufacturing machines for the watch industry, but also for the camera industry. For the so-called centering in lens production, we use Lehmann machines in part. Very sophisticated machines to correctly centre portraits Helge Kirchberger the individual aspheric lenses in the body of a complete camera lens. His main outlet area, however, is the watch industry. He builds very complex machines for it, virtually all the way to fully automatic.

So, on the one hand, Markus Lehmann delivers machines for the watch industry, while, on the other, he is a watchmaker. In addition, there’s the fact that he’s a Swabian, very precise and with Swabian characteristics: when he tinkers, you’re not allowed to disturb him. We are helping Markus with the building of a special electro-plating, so that we can also be more independent with the watch dials. The thing is that the way a watch looks is defined 80 percent by the dial – that was the design challenge for the Leica watch!

All in all, it was a long and very challenging process, but I think that we and our future watch customers will look at the result with pleasure. Watch products from Leica Wetzlar. For me it’s like things have nearly come full circle, because, after finishing his apprenticeship in Pforzheim, Ernst Leitz first worked in the Swiss watch industry, before coming to Wetzlar in 1864!


DR. ANDREAS KAUFMANN - CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF LEICA CAMERA AG, HAS REALISED AN IDEA THAT HAD BEEN IN THE AIR FOR A LONG TIME: THE PRODUCTION OF A HIGH-QUALITY, MECHANICAL WATCH.



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Friday, June 15, 2018

GRAND OPENING OF LEITZ PARK III




 


For the grand opening and inauguration of Leitz Park III Leica Camera AG presented several additions to their portfolio of cameras.

Starting at the top is a special edition of the Leica M10, both in silver chrome and black, with a special engraving on the top plate.  In addition, the camera has a special leather trim with the words Leitz Park.  The common red Leica logo has been replaced with a screw.

  

For more go here



Next in line is the new LEICA C-LUX – 24 MP TRAVEL ZOOM.  It combines a 24-360mm equivalent lens with a 20.1 MP 1″ sensor.  The camera will be available in Light Gold and Midnight Blue color options starting mid July 2018.

The lens of the new Leica C-Lux is a  24-360mm (35mm equivalent) 15x zoom with a maximum aperture of f/3.3-6.4. It features a high-resolution 2.33MP electronic viewfinder with 0.52x magnification. Other features include a 1.24 MP 3 inch touch fixed display. The camera aloso features  4K video with 120fps slow-motion Full HD recording.

The Leica press release reads as follows:

New: Leica C-Lux

The versatile compact camera with a 15x zoom, a practical touchscreen and exceptional design

Wetzlar, 15 June 2018. With the launch of the Leica C-Lux, Leica Camera AG expands its product portfolio with a versatile compact camera that unites speed, an intuitive handling concept and stylish design. Featuring a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 8.8–132 mm f/3.3–6.4 ASPH. lens and a high-performance 20-megapixel sensor for continuous shooting at a rate of up to 10 frames per second, the Leica C-Lux adapts quickly and flexibly to every situation and effortlessly delivers high-quality pictures of subjects at any distance. Its 15-fold optical zoom with focal lengths from 24 to 360 mm (35 mm equivalent) offers enormous creative scope that is further expanded by 4K video recording capability. Thanks to an integrated connectivity concept, still pictures and videos can be quickly and easily shared with family and friends by a simple tap of a finger on the touchscreen display. Available in the colours Light Gold and Midnight Blue, the Leica C-Lux impresses not only with its precision, but also with exceptional design that is additionally highlighted by a range of stylish accessories.

From the lens to the 1-inch image sensor, all components of the Leica C-Lux are precisely matched to one another and deliver brilliant pictures in RAW or JPEG format in a quality that remains equally impressive in large-format prints. With an impressive maximum ISO sensitivity of 25600, the C-Lux guarantees pictures with natural colours and exceptional quality, above all when used for available-light photography. Thanks to its versatile zoom lens, fast autofocus and face detection, the camera also offers enormous flexibility in almost all areas of photography, and especially in spontaneous situations. Thanks to fast autofocus with 49 metering points, subjects are focused sharply in an instant, and a continuous shooting rate of 10 frames per second ensures that even the most fleeting moments will never be missed. Intuitively selectable scene modes provide valuable assistance when shooting landscapes, portraits or at night and enable users to concentrate exclusively on their subjects.

Thanks to the viewfinder’s high resolution of 2.33 megapixels, the clarity and contrast of the viewing image is outstanding at all times – even in particularly bright ambient light. As the viewfinder covers 100% of the image field, framing of subjects is extremely precise and users have complete control of composition. The camera also offers dioptre compensation settings that allow spectacle wearers to use the viewfinder without any problems.

The 3-inch touchscreen display ensures particularly easy handling in all shooting situations. As with a smartphone, many of the camera’s functions can be controlled by simply touching the monitor screen, for instance the transfer of still pictures and videos via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The ‘Leica C-Lux’ app that supports this function can be downloaded free of charge and installed on iOS or Android devices. The display screen features a special repellent coating that prevents annoying marks and protects it against fingerprints.

The high-definition, 4K-resolution, digital video recording function expands the spectrum of features offered by the Leica C-Lux. Thanks to exceptional resolution – four-times higher than full-HD – and up to 30p & 100 Mbit in MP4 format, the C-Lux delivers all the technical prerequisites for shooting your own, personal short film. What’s more, still pictures can be extracted and saved from video footage at a resolution of up to 8 megapixels.

The compact Leica C-Lux impresses not only with its technical features, but also with elegant design that is further highlighted by a portfolio of stylish accessories. An extensive range of accessories in matching and complimentary colours is available for both versions of the camera. These include, for example, carrying straps and wrist straps for the camera in the colours taupe, blue and red. The portfolio also offers an extensive collection of premium quality camera cases, protectors and soft pouches that make the C-Lux an elegant companion for every occasion. Particularly eye-catching are the two vintage models in finely polished brown leather: a cleverly designed wrap-around vintage pouch and a vintage case with a concealed snap fastener. Also available is an outdoor bag in hardwearing, water- repellent fabric. A range of elegant cases in various styles, colours and types of cowhide completes the portfolio. Thanks to a detachable, adjustable carrying strap, two of these models can be used not only as a shoulder bag, but also as a handbag or for stowing things away in a day bag.

The Leica C-Lux will be on sale in the colour options Light Gold and Midnight Blue from mid- July 2018. The range of accessories will also be available when sales of the camera begin.

For more go here



Finally there is the LEICA M10 ‘EDITION ZAGATO’.  The camera comes with a Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.  The set takes its name from Dr Andrea Zagato, owner of the design house and automotive styling specialist, who personally designed this limited edition which is restricted to 250 pieces worldwide.

Here is Leica’s press release:

The fine arts of German craftsmanship meet Italian Design: Leica Camera AG presents the new, strictly limited Leica M10 ‘Edition Zagato’.

Wetzlar, 15 June 2018. With the Leica M10 ‘Edition Zagato’, Leica Camera AG presents a timelessly beautiful special edition that unites the best of German craftsmanship and Italian design. Comprising a camera and a Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens, the set takes its name from Dr Andrea Zagato, owner of the design house and automotive styling specialist of the same name, who personally designed the limited edition, restricted to 250 pieces worldwide. This collaboration is now the second special edition created between the two long-established companies – 2015 saw the launch of a limited series of binoculars with a strikingly elegant design, the Leica Ultravid 8×32 ‘Edition Zagato’.

Founded a century ago, Zagato has been the creator of the most beautiful coachbuilt bodies in the history of automobile construction. The quintessential Italian brand is particularly well known for its innovative use of aluminium in automobile design and construction. Today, the company continues to create special, and traditionally strictly limited, editions of cars with unique styling in Milan, where the story of success began with the brand’s founder Ugo Zagato in 1919.

Both Leica and Zagato uphold a strong passion for aesthetics and precision in many respects. Both have intrinsic links, as well, to photography: “Photography plays an essential role in our work. Without the possibilities offered by photography, we would never have had the invaluable pictures to be able to reconstruct vehicle models, and would not be able to present our work from the last decades in such an impressive way” emphasises owner Dr Andrea Zagato, who, together with his wife and Art Director, Marella Rivolta-Zagato, now heads the family company in its third generation.

The ‘Edition Zagato’ is the first special edition of the Leica M10 camera and offers extraordinary visual and tactile highlights. The top deck, the baseplate, the outer casing and the control elements of the camera are all manufactured from aluminium. This makes it 70g lighter than its serial production counterpart. Instead of the usual leather trim, the bodyshell of the camera is finished with fine grooves, which, together with details like the red shutter release button, lend the camera its unique look and feel. The integrated handgrip at the left of the body visually distinguishes the special edition from the serial production model of the M10 and makes it a delight to hold and handle. The M10 ‘Edition Zagato’ is the first Leica camera to have its own special serial number engraved on an aluminium badge on the base of the camera that is revealed only when the baseplate is opened.

The Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens in the special edition set has an integrated lens hood that can be pulled out and locked in place in a single motion – a new feature for a 35mm lens that simplifies its handling. The design of the focusing aid on the lens pays homage to a typical styling signature of Zagato automobile design, the double-bubble roofline of many Zagato models. The unmistakeable ‘Zagato’ logotype on the lens ring also indicates the role of the prominent design partner in this collaboration. In all other aspects, the technical specifications of the camera and lens in the Leica M10 ‘Edition Zagato’ set are identical to those of its serial production counterpart.

In addition to the camera and lens, the set also includes a carrying strap in red full-grain leather embossed with the Zagato logotype. This M-Camera is the first to feature rectangular strap lugs in the same design as those of the Zagato binoculars. The certificate of authenticity graces the packaging of the set in the form of an aluminium plate with an engraved serial number.

The Leica M10 ‘Edition Zagato’ is available from 15th June 2018 in selected Leica Stores, a few pieces of the Leica Ultravid 8×32 ‘Edition Zagato’ limited edition binoculars are still available. In addition to the binoculars and a case in Zagato design, the set includes a matching carrying strap and a leather wrist strap.

The publication of the second volume of the coffee-table book trilogy, ‘Leica and Zagato – Europe Collectibles’, coincides with the launch of the Leica M10 ‘Edition Zagato’. The fascinating pictures show 33 Zagato models from the entire history of the brand in evocative European settings.

For more go here



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